No action over alleged insult

A PARISH councillor alleged to have insulted his village's Lord of the Manor has been found not guilty of breaching the council members' code of conduct.

A PARISH councillor alleged to have insulted his village's Lord of the Manor has been found not guilty of breaching the council members' code of conduct.

John Prigg, a parish councillor for 35 years at picturesque Haughley, near Stowmarket, was reported to the Standards Board for England by Jeffrey Bowden.

It was alleged that, during a meeting in February, Mr Prigg verbally abused Mr Bowden, who is Lord of the Manor of Haughley.

He was also alleged to have said he was ashamed of his colleagues and to have damaged the reputation of the parish council. The complaints arose from discussion about the long-running saga over the village green.

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The Palmer family, who run the bakery in the village, have been in dispute with parish councillors over access to the business they run on the land.

The council wants to limit the size of lorries which drive over the green to deliver to the bakery, but the bakery is worried the move could damage trading, and more than 7,000 people signed a petition backing the shop.

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Mr Prigg, who was the village butcher before retiring, said: “In my 35 years on the council, and 13 as chairman, I have not had a single complaint from any quarter on any matter ever lodged against me.

“This was a trivial complaint and the standards board did not put any credence on this.”

But Mr Bowden, Lord of the Manor and a parish councillor, said: “I believe he should have been hauled over the coals. He stood up at a parish council meeting and said he was ashamed of his colleagues.”

Kathy Farrand, a manager with the standards board, said that having considered the matter they do not believe that a breach of the code of conduct, which regulates councillors' behaviour, had been disclosed.

She said: “It should be noted that in the course of their duties members are likely to encounter occasional ill-considered or rude commentary and members can sometimes get carried away and resort to name-calling, abusive heckling and other disruptive or disrespectful behaviour.

“It is recognised that such conduct is inappropriate and unprofessional and a potential breach of the code of conduct which requires members to treat each other with respect.

“Allegations to the standards board about disrespectful comments made in the course of political debate are only likely to be referred for investigation where there is clear and excessive abuse of people rather than ideas.

“Allegations of simple name-calling, political point scoring or mild rude and inappropriate language would not be serious enough to refer for investigation by an ethical standards officer.”

Mr Bowden has the right to appeal.

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